Ask any working mother on the one emotion she often feels, it will probably be guilt. Why? Whether it’s guilt from not being able to make it to a parent-teacher conference, or a school talent competition, working mothers know firsthand how tough it can be and how such feelings can turn into a mountain over time. There are many women today who do not quit their jobs after getting married, but instead, after children, which shows that society doesn’t always put pressure on women to quit their jobs for their significant other. However, they do expect women to quit their jobs after having children, or else they must be live with the “bad mother” brand, labeled by other women mind you. Every day women are bombarded with how they should contribute to the economy, become financially independent, lean in at work, etc. Meanwhile, they are also told of how children suffer when both parents work, how women feel more guilty than men while in the office. What’s a woman to do?
Women are being fed by the notion that working while being a mother is because selfishness
While it might be acceptable to be a “bad wife”; not providing a home-cooked meal for one’s husband when he comes back from work, regardless of whether you have a job or not. But, being a “bad mother” is unforgivable and the sanctity of motherhood is making women feel more guilty than ever of being inadequate; how can they be so selfish and work while they have a child. Today, highly educated women find themselves in the dilemma of choosing a full-time job or being a full-time caregiver for their children. Pressured by family and fellow women, working mothers are never made to feel good enough because they continue to work instead, they are fed by the notion that they may be working because of their selfishness. Society believes that women should find the ultimate satisfaction in giving birth and raising children and once these take place, their identity is that of motherhood and that alone. On the other hand, men are never made to feel guilty that they may be missing out on the lives of their children. Global cultures have taught that the entire burden of raising children must be placed on women and even modernity has failed to lessen this burden as they are made to feel the guilt, a heavier burden.
Dads babysit their own kids, while mothers have to raise their children
Far from being an Indian problem, a YouGov survey conducted in 2015 that analyzed 42,000 people 24 countries discovered that Britain was the only country where more women than men agreed that “a wife’s first role is to look after her husband.” Hence, the problem of women thinking about women’s roles mirrors in the developed world too, not just developing countries like India. As soon as a woman is pregnant, she seems to become public property in the sense that the people around her including strangers give unsolicited advice on how to raise her child and from the time she gives birth, it will be all sacrifice. Expected to be martyrs to further the human race, motherhood is regarded as a privilege that mothers should never pass up for anything. A New York Times article reveals how a man was complaining that he had to “babysit” the children while his wife was out at a party with her friends. Has anyone heard of a woman “babysitting” her own children? For women, being one and having a family and looking after them just go hand in hand, it’s difficult for society to separate the two. However, the truth is that the grass is always greener on the other side which women need to know. The working woman will always feel that she is missing out on her children, while the stay-at-home mother will always wish she was working; it’s a vicious cycle.
Therefore, motherhood should never be seen as a sacrifice or martyrdom, instead, it must be a free choice that women make and one that brings them joy. Similarly, women who choose to have a career and women to choose otherwise should never be pitted against each other, that’s where the problem lies. Sadly, we women remain the culprits in the voices of judgment.
Image credit: Harvard Business School Working Knowledge